Allied Warships

HMS Utmost (N 19)

Submarine of the U class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassU 
PennantN 19 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down2 Nov 1939 
Launched20 Apr 1940 
Commissioned17 Aug 1940 
LostNov 1942 
HistoryHMS Utmost (Lt. John Walter David Coombe, RN) disappeared without a trace after 23 November 1942. 

Commands listed for HMS Utmost (N 19)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt. John Henry Eaden, DSC, RN24 Jun 194030 Jan 1941
2Lt.Cdr. Richard Douglas Cayley, RN30 Jan 1941Oct 1941
3Lt. John Dennis Martin, RNOct 1941Nov 1941
4Lt.Cdr. Richard Douglas Cayley, DSO, RNNov 19414 Apr 1942
5Lt. Anthony Walter Langridge, RN4 Apr 194216 Sep 1942
6Lt. John Walter David Coombe, RN16 Sep 1942Nov 1942

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Noteable events involving Utmost include:


Prestwich Urban District adopted HMS Utmost during a fund raising "Warship Week" aimed at raising money to pay for a ship from particular towns. The Town of Prestwich was presented with an oak plaque/shield made of materials from the submarine. The plaque was on display in Prestwich Town Hall until Prestwich joined Bury. The plaque is now in Bury Museum. (1)

The history of HMS Utmost as compiled on this page is extracted from the patrol reports and logbooks of this submarine. Corrections and details regarding information from the enemy's side (for instance the composition of convoys attacked) are kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada. He also provided details regarding the special operations and train wrecking missions carried out by HMS Utmost.

This page was last updated in August 2014.

15 Aug 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) departed her builders yard at Barrow for the Clyde. (2)

16 Aug 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) arrived in the Clyde area for a period of trials and training. (2)

10 Sep 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was docked at Ardrossan. (2)

11 Sep 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was undocked. (2)

16 Sep 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde area for Portsmouth. (2)

20 Sep 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (2)

21 Sep 1940
While bottoming at Portsmouth during an air raid HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) sustained damage to her fore hydroplanes. (3)

25 Sep 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for her 1st war patrol. She was to have sailed on 22 September but was delayed by defects. She was ordered to patrol in the English Channel.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (4)

5 Oct 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Portsmouth.

There were problems with 'singing' propellers. These were changed and several trials were undertaken afterwards. The dates Utmost as docked are unfortunately not known to us. (4)

28 Oct 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. She was to join the Mediterranean Fleet. En-route she was to make a short 48-hour patrol in the Bay of Biscay making this her 2nd war patrol.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (2)

5 Nov 1940
At about 1845 hours, in position 37°58'N, 09°50'W, HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) stopped the Portuguese fishing vessel Machado (316 GRT, 1919) but released her after examination.

6 Nov 1940
At 1225 hours, in position 36°08'N, 08°45'W, HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was rammed by the British destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN). Encounter was part of the destroyer screen for the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN). Both Utmost and Encounter were damaged. They were escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN).

7 Nov 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar where repairs were undertaken to make her seaworthy again and made her able to dive. Permanent repairs were to be undertaken at Malta. (2)

30 Nov 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (2)

8 Dec 1940
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. Before she was to be used operationally she had to undergo repairs to her pressure hull that was damaged when she was rammed by HMS Encounter on 6 November. (2)

4 Feb 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 3rd war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol the Western approaches to Tripoli, Libya.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 3rd war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

9 Feb 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) made a torpedo attack on an enemy convoy about 5 nautical miles North-East of Zuwara, Libya in position 33°00N, 12°11'E. Three torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
1715 hours - In position 33°00N, 12°11'E sighted a convoy of three merchant vessels bearing 280°. Range was about 5 nautical miles. They were zig-zagging very erratically. Started attack.

1745 hour - The convoy stopped to wait for a fourth merchant vessel that came from the North.

1805 hours - The convoy proceeded. It was now getting dark.

1815 hours - When about to open fire on the leading ship from 500 yards she suddenly altered course towards. Went deep with the intention to return to periscope depth at the other side of the convoy and then to attack the rear ship. Three torpedoes were fired in this attack but due to the bad visibility no hits were obtained. No counter attack followed.

According to Italian sources the attack had been on a convoy consisting of the transport Nirvo (5164 GRT, built 1919) and the tankers Berbera (2093 GRT, built 1931) and Caucaso (2065 GRT, built 1920) screened by the armed merchant cruiser Attilio Deffenu (3510 GRT, built 1929). The torpedoes were seen and an escorting aircraft dropped a marking buoy in the vicinity but no retaliatory action occurred. (4)

12 Feb 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) torpedoed and damaged the Italian merchant Mauly (5942 GRT, built 1925) off Zuwara, Libya in position 33°00'N, 12°00'E.

(All times are zone -1)
0930 hours - Sighted a convoy of three merchant ships escorted by one destroyer bearing 100°, range 3 nautical miles, enemy course 260°. Started attack on the leading and largest ship of about 8000 tons. Fired three torpedoes and obtained one hit. Utmost went to 80 feet after firing the torpedoes.

0954 to 1022 hours - 25 Depth charges were dropped. HE indicated that two escorts were hunting. No damage was sustained. Utmost retired to the North-East.

1130 hours - Returned to periscope depth. Saw the target down by the stern and stopped. Aircraft were patrolling the area. The convoy meanwhile made off to the West.

[The convoy attacked was made up of the above mentioned Mauly as well as the Italian merchant Tembien (5584 GRT, built 1914) and the German merchant Leverkusen (7382 GRT, built 1928). They were escorted by the Italian torpedo boat Centauro. Mauly was hit astern and immobilised, her crew had abandoned ship but later reboarded her. The auxiliary Orlando and the tug Polifemo were sent from Tripoli to take her in tow and the torpedo-boat Rosolino Pilo to relieve Centauro who continued with the remaining ships. It took seven days to bring Mauly back to Tripoli.] (4)

15 Feb 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

25 Feb 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 4th war patrol (2nd in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to perform a special operation.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 4th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

28 Feb 1941
At 1930 hours, HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) surfaced in position 35°59'N, 10°34'E (Gulf of Hammamet) and carried out the special mission. This was the first of five missions that Utmost would undertake in Tunisia. Although no official report appears to have survived, there is little doubt that Utmost brought back the lawyer André Mounier with two radio transmitters. The previous month, Mounier had sailed from Tunisia in the sailing vessel Pescadou and reached Malta. He offered his services and those of Commandant Jean Breuillac to organize a resistance network in Tunisia. They were later provided with limpets to sabotage Italian vessels engaged in the phosphate traffic.

Upon completion of the special operation she patrolled off the Gulf of Hammamet, although targets were sighted on 2 March they were too far to attack.

4 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 4th war patrol (2nd in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

6 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 5th war patrol (3rd in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Hammamet.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 5th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

9 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Capo Vita (5683 GRT, built 1916) off the Gulf of Hammamet about 30 nautical miles North-East of Sousse, Tunisia in position 36°09'N, 11°07'E.

(All times are zone -2)
1115 hours - Sighted two merchant ships escorted by an armed merchant cruiser bearing 345°, range 5 nautical miles, enemy course 170°. Started attack.

1205 hours - Fired three torpedoes from 1000 yards. Two explosions followed. A counter attack followed in which 6 depth charges were dropped but these did no damage. 12 Minutes later Utmost returned to periscope depth to find the armed merchant cruiser and one of the merchants in sight. The other one must have sunk. She had been heavily laden and was of about 8000 tons and it was also observed that there were troops on board.

[This convoy was made up of the above mentioned Capo Vita as well as the Italian merchant Fenicia (2584 GRT, built 1919), they were escorted by the Italian Armed Merchant Cruiser Attilio Deffenu (3510 GRT, built 1929). Capo Vita blew up, there were no survivors. An escorting Cant Z 501 of 144^ Squadriglia observed the attack but was powerless to intervene. Fenicia was sunk the next day by HMS Unique.] (4)

12 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 5th war patrol (3rd in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

19 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 6th war patrol (4th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off Kerkennah as a convoy believed to be transporting German troops was expected to sail from Naples.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 6th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

28 Mar 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) attacked a convoy of 5 German merchants and three Italian destroyers and torpedoed and sank the German merchants Heraklea (1927 GRT, built 1922) and torpedoed and damaged the Ruhr (5954 GRT, built 1926) 22 nautical miles south-east of Kuriat, Tunisia in position 35°40'N, 11°19'E.

(All times are zone -2)
In position 35°40'N, 11°19'E sighted six heavily laden merchant vessels escorted by two destroyers bearing 330°, range 9000 yards, enemy course 150°, speed 12 knots. Started attack.

2158 hours - Fired four torpedoes at three ships showing up as an unbroken line against the horizon. After the last torpedo had left the tubes Utmost dived. Two hits were obtained. The time between the explosions indicated that in either column a ship must have been hit. No counter attack followed which might indicate that there were survivors in the water. Utmost retired to the Eastward and remained dived until 2400 hours.

[The convoy attacked was made up of the above mentioned German merchant ships as well as the German merchants Adana (4176 GRT, built 1922) and Samos (2576 GRT, built 1923) and the Italian merchant Galilea (8040 GRT, built 1916). They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Folgore, Dardo and Strale. Heraklea was carrying 212 German soldiers and 100 vehicles, 78 were lost. Ruhr carried 585 German soldiers and 160 vehicles, she was towed by the destroyer Dardo to Trapani.] (4)

1 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 6th war patrol (4th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

2 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) was docked at Malta. (5)

7 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) was undocked. (5)

17 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 7th war patrol (5th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to perform a special operation.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 7th war patrol click here for bigger map ? (4)

19 Apr 1941
At 2145 hours, in position 35°57'N, 10°36'E (north of Sousse) HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) surfaced to carry out the special operation. The Breuillac/Mounier resistance network (see 28 February) had received a signal at noon the previous day that a submarine would pick up Breuillac at 22 hours on the 19th. In Malta, he was to meet with Lt. Col. Des Essarts, an envoy of General De Gaulle, who was to fly from Cairo. Breuillac, who was Chief of Staff to General Jurion, had secured a 15-day leave to do some 'tourism' in Tunisia. He lost no time and travelled by train to Sousse with Mounier and another member of their network, Verdier. They took a small sailboat to go 'fishing' and cruised for several hours at the rendezvous point. Utmost delivered stores and Mounier and Verdier returned with them leaving Breuillac to continue on to Malta.

22 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 7th war patrol (5th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

25 Apr 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 8th war patrol (6th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to carry out a special operation.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 8th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

27 Apr 1941
At 2105 hours, in position 35°58'N, 10°37.5'E HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) surfaced to carry out the special operation. This was to meet a sailboat manned by Mounier and Verdier and transfer Commandant Breuillac. The submarine cruised in a vain without meeting them, the two men later affirming that they had been at the rendezvous.

28 Apr 1941
At 2106 hours, in position 35°58'N, 10°37'E HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) surfaced again to carry out the special operation. This time the sailboat was sighted at 2140 hours and Breuillac and stores (including limpets for underwater sabotage) were transferred ashore. He had three days to spare for his furlough!

9 May 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 8th war patrol (6th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. At 0941 hours, shortly before entering harbour Utmost was attacked by enemy aircraft. She crash dived to safety. Several bombs were dropped causing minor damage. (4)

24 May 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 9th war patrol (7th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Hammamet and to perform a special operation.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 9th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

27 May 1941
At 2146 hours, in position 35°58'N, 10°34'E, HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) surfaced to carry out a special operation. No information appears to have survived but it probably was to land explosives and other stores for the Breuillac/Mounier network.

29 May 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) attacked a merchant vessel with three torpedoes about 5 nautical miles South-East of Kuriat. No hits were obtained. One of the torpedoes had a gyro failure.

(All times are zone -2)
1350 hours - In position 35°43'N, 11°06'E sighted a merchant ship of about 3000 tons. One aircraft was circling overhead and was believed to be an escort. Range was 10000 yards. Closed at speed to attack. In the attack three torpedoes were fired from 4500 yards. Upon firing Utmost went to 80 feet. One of the torpedoes had a gyro failure and appeared to be cruising around in an erratic and alarming matter. After 10 minutes HE from the torpedo became fainter and finally disappeared.

At the time this was believed to have been the Italian Florida II (3100 GRT, built 1905) but she was at Sfax at the time. The target has not yet been identified. (4)

4 Jun 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 9th war patrol (7th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

17 Jun 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 10th war patrol (8th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the North of the Straits of Messina. She also was to destroy a railway if the opportunity arose.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 10th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

24 Jun 1941
At 0001 hours, near position 39°10'N, 16°03'E (north of Amantea), HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) launched a folbot manned by Lt. D.R. Schofield, Royal Fusiliers and Lance Corporal F.C. Morgan to blow up a train in a railway tunnel.

(All times are zone -2)
23 June 1941
2210 hours - Surfaced and proceeded towards the shore. A suitable tunnel in which to wreck a train had been spotted during the day.

24 June 1941
0001 hours - Launched the Folbot with a party of two 400 yards from the shore. They successfully placed the charge and returned safely.

0200 hours - A train went through the tunnel but did not blow up.

0245 hours - Launched the Folbot again. The railway was now blown up without waiting for a train. The party returned safely shortly before dawn at 0500 hours. (4)

26 Jun 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Enrico Costa (4080 BRT, built 1928) 4 nautical miles from Cape Todaro, Sicily, Italy in position 38°07'N, 14°37'E. The vessel was travelling from Catania to Palermo with 3000 tons of coal. There were no casualties.

(All times are zone -2)
1200 hours -Sighted a partly laden merchant ship of about 6000 tons bearing 060°, 5 nautical miles away. Utmost closed to 1100 yards and fired two torpedoes. One of the torpedoes hit amidships. The crew abandoned ship but it did not sink. Utmost later fired a third torpedo that hit and sank the ship.

According to Italian sources the vessel was travelling from Catania to Palermo with 3000 tons of coal. There were no casualties. The torpedo-boats Castore and Albatros were directed to the scene. Utmost sighted Albatros at 1425 hours and correctly identified her but the Italian warships failed to detect the submarine. (4)

28 Jun 1941
At 1410 hours, HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN), sighted three cruisers and three destroyers bearing 230 degrees, 5 miles, course 130°, the nearest cruiser was a Condottieri class, the others could not be identified. The submarine could not come within attacking range but attempted to make an enemy report, however Malta failed to acknowledge reception. These were most certainly the light cruiser Monteccucoli and the destroyers Fuciliere and Bersagliere who reached Palermo at 1530 hours. The other warships have not been identified (so far).

Just after midnight, while another landing attempt was underway in approximate position 38°02'N, 14°04'E (near Sant' Ambrogio, north coast of Sicily), Utmost was apparently seen from shore detected by a sentry of a railway tunnel. Shouts were heard and the landing party (Lt. D.R. Schofield of the Royal Fusiliers and Lance Corporal F.C. Morgan) also heard the alarm and wisely returned to the submarine. (4)

3 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) ended her 10th war patrol (8th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

8 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) was docked at Malta. (6)

12 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) was undocked. (6)

17 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 11th war patrol (9th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the North of the Straits of Messina, one of the four submarines deployed for operation SUBSTANCE (the others were HMS Urge and HMS Upholder from Malta and HMS P 32 from Gibraltar). She also was to destroy a railway if the opportunity arose, just like in her previous patrol that was in the same area.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 11th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

20 Jul 1941
At 2305 hours, HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN), sighted a 6000 tons merchant vessel bearing 50 degrees, at a distance of five miles in position 38°26'N, 12°48'E, The ship was zig-zagging on a mean course of 260°. The submarine closed at high speed and, at 2325 hours, fired two torpedoes from a range of 3000 yards. Both missed. The target has not been identified for certain but may have been the Italian Ettore (4270 GRT, built 1912) who had sailed at 1830 hours from Palermo for Algiers.

27 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) landed a sabotage party in position 38°47'N, 16°06'E (near Pizzo, Calabria, Italy) (Lt. D.R. Schoffield, Royal Fusiliers, and Lance Corporal F.C. Morgan).

(All times are zone -2)
27 July 1941
2330 hours - Landed the Folbot with a party of two which successfully laid explosives underneath a railway line.

28 July 1941
0100 hours - A large explosion was seen as a large southbound train passed over the spot where the charge had been placed. Shortly afterwards the Folbot party returned safely. According to Italian sources the rear of the train was derailed.
(4)

28 Jul 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Frederico (1488 GRT, built 1920) in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea of the west coast of Calabria, Italy in position 39°28'N, 15°52'E.

(All times are zone -2)
1835 hours - Sighted a 4000 tons merchant ship escorted by a 5000 tons Armed Merchant Cruiser bearing 330°, 9 nautical miles, course 160°, speed 8 knots. Started attack in which two torpedoes were fired from 700 yards. One hit was obtained and the ship sank immediately. The Armed Merchant Cruiser counter attacked with 20 depth charges but none were close.

According to Italian sources Frederico had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Adriatico (1976 GRT, built 1931) who rescued all the crew except one. (4)

3 Aug 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 11th war patrol (9th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

19 Aug 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Malta for her 12th war patrol (10th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off South coast of Calabria, Italy. Once again she carried a raiding party to destroy a railway if the opportunity arose.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 12th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

27 Aug 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) landed a sabotage party (Lt. R. Wilson, R.A. and Marine W.G. Hughes) near the mouth of the river Saracena (39°50'N, 16°31'E).

(All times are zone -2)
27 August 1941
2325 hours - Landed the Folbot with a party of two which successfully laid explosives on the railway bridge across the river Seracina.

28 August 1941
0218 hours - A large explosion occurred. It appeared the charges were well placed.

0230 hours - The Folbot party returned safely.

According to Italian sources the explosion did not destroy the bridge but caused enough damage requiring repairs before traffic could be resumed. (4)

28 Aug 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) attacked an enemy merchant vessel in position 39°16'N, 17°17'E (near Punta Alice, Calabria, Italy). Three torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -2)
1650 hours - When in position 014°, 3 nautical miles from Alice Point, sighted an Armed Merchant Cruiser bearing 060°, range 5 nautical miles. She was escorting a merchant vessel of about 6000 tons. Their course was about 260°. The Armed Merchant Cruiser soon altered course to the South and came towards. It was expected that the merchant ship would follow but she did not do so immediately. Eventually Utmost had to go deep to avoid the Armed Merchant Cruiser. When she returned to periscope depth it was noticed that the merchant ship had finally changed course towards. Started attack in which three torpedoes were fired but these all missed.

The armed merchant cruiser was almost certainly Piero Foscari (3423 GT, built 1928) on passage from Bari to Naples via Messina. The merchant ship has not yet been identified.

Shortly after firing, another merchant vessel of 4000 tons escorted by a schooner appeared coast from the northward. Utmost reloaded the tubes but the target disappeared in a rain squall before an attack could be carried out. This was most probably the transport Dea Mazzella (3082 GRT, built 1919) escorted by the auxiliary Maria di Meglio on passage from Taranto to Crotone. A week later, Dea Mazzella was damaged by air attack at Crotone. (4)

31 Aug 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 12th war patrol (10th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

12 Sep 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Malta for her 13th war patrol (10th in the Mediterranean). She had just returned to port after exercising in the morning when she was ordered to proceed to position 34°36'N, 12°12'E, near the Kerkennah Shallows, to pick up the crew from a crashed Blenheim bomber.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 13th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

13 Sep 1941
At 0745 hours, in position 34°35'N, 12°16'E, HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) sighted distress signals bearing 220°. 5 Minutes later sighted a rubber dinghy with three occupants. They were the missing aircrew and were quickly picked up. (4)

14 Sep 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 13th war patrol (11th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

18 Sep 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, RN) departed Malta for her 14th war patrol (12th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. Once again she carried a raiding party to destroy a railway if the opportunity arose.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 14th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

22 Sep 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) landed a sabotage party (Lt. R. Wilson, R.A. and Marine W.G. Hughes) near Intavolata (position 39°29'N, 15°58'E). They were not successful in destroying the Torre di Rienzo railway tunnel as they were detected by Italian guards.

(All times are zone -2)
22 September 1941
2200 hours - Stopped in 14 fathoms of water, 1500 yards from the shore. Landed the Folbot with a party of two which were to lay explosives in the entrance to a railway tunnel on the busy Naples-Messina line.

23 September 1941
0152 hours - The operation had to be abandoned as the raiding party was detected by Italian guards.

0210 hours - The Folbot party returned safely despite being under constant gunfire from the shore.

The operation was thwarted by the arrival of the Italian Militia (Carabiniere Alfonso Cappuziello, Corporal Francesco Scarnati and a railway watchman). The commandos fired three rounds with their pistols and Cappuziello fired back two rounds with his rifle. The commandos fled, abandoning their explosives. The Italian High Command was upset that reaction had not been more energetic and the two soldiers and three of their superior officers were sentenced to several days arrest. (4)

23 Sep 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) again landed a sabotage party party (Lt. R. Wilson, R.A. and Marine W.G. Hughes) near position 39°04.5'N, 16°06'E (Campomara di San Giovanni). They were not successful in destroying a railway bridge over the river Oliva as, yet again, they were detected by Italian guards.

(All times are zone -2)
2145 hours - Stopped in 16 fathoms of water, 1400 yards from the shore. Landed the Folbot with a party of two which were to lay explosives on the railway bridge over the river Oliva.

2245 hours - Saw flashes from gunfire on the shore. Looked like the raiding party was again detected.

2300 hours - The raiding party returned safely. Utmost retired to seaward.

Again the operation was thwarted by two sentries Alfonso Sementa and Enrico Murgano. Apparently the commandos fired two pistol shots hitting Murgano in the right arm but both Italian soldiers returned fire forcing the two commandos to flee, they managed to return to the submarine. The alarm had been given and more Italian soldiers arrived, the area was thoroughly searched and the explosives discovered. (4)

26 Sep 1941
Utmost had been ordered to cover the northern approaches of the Strait of Messina during the passage of the HALBERD convoy. At 1435 hours, three cruisers and eight destroyers proceeding northward were sighted at a distance of 6 miles in 38°18'N, 15°41'E. The submarine closed to 2500 yards and was about to fire four torpedoes at the third cruiser when it nearly collided with a destroyer and the attack was broken off.

These were the heavy cruisers Trento and Gorizia and their destroyer screen who had just sailed from Messina.

2 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) attacked an enemy convoy off Marettimo Island. Only one torpedo was fired instead of the intended three as Utmost was detected by the escorts and the attack had to be broken off.

(All times are zone -2)
0119 hours - In position 37°53'N, 12°05'E sighted a convoy bearing 130°, range about 6 nautical miles, enemy course 330°. Escort a provided by two destroyers but most likely a third was astern. Attack conditions were very difficult. An attack was started and one torpedo was fired. More torpedoes were intended but a green Very light was fired in the direction of Utmost by an unseen destroyer. Utmost had to no other choice then to dive. The torpedo that was fired was heard to explode and is thought to have hit the target. Following this attack 14 depth charges were dropped by the escorts but none were close and no damage was sustained.

According to Italian sources this was the “H” convoy consisting of the transports Caterina (4838 GRT, built 1920), Marin Sanudo (5958 GRT, built 1926) and the tanker Minatitland (7651 GRT, built 1941) escorted by destroyers Alpino, Alfredo Oriani and Strale proceeding from Tripoli to Naples. It was Oriani who sighted the surfaced submarine and rushed to the attack, dropping 22 depth charges. (4)

3 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 14th war patrol (12th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

11 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) was docked at Malta. (7)

15 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) was undocked. (7)

21 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. (7)

23 Oct 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) departed Malta for 15th war patrol (13th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off Kuriat and also to perform a special operation. Lt. J.D. Martin, RN had taken over command for this patrol from Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) in order to give this last officer a rest and to enable complete recovery from sandfly fever.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 15th war patrol click here for bigger map (1)

26 Oct 1941
At 0245 hours HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) completed her special operation in the Gulf of Hammamet. This was probably to land stores for the remnants of the Breuillac resistance network. After sabotaging a couple of Italian ships, one of the saboteurs was captured and talked. Mounier had been forced to flee to Malta but was killed on his return trip when his plane (a captured Heinkel 115) crashed. The folbot sank as it was returning but the crew managed to swim to the submarine. (4)

31 Oct 1941
At 0020 hours, HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN), in position 35°47'N, 11°04'E, fired one torpedo at the grounded Italian merchant Marigola (5996 GRT, built 1906) but missed.

1 Nov 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) destroys the (already grounded and damaged) Italian merchant Marigola (5996 GRT, built 1906) off Kuriat Island, Tunisia.

(All times are zone -1)
2230 hours - Set course and speed to close the stranded vessel.

2303 hours - Opened fire on this vessel. In all 39 HE and 19 SAP shells were fired from 400 yards. About 50 hits were obtained.

2335 hours - Retired to seaward. The stranded vessel was now definitely a total loss. (4)

3 Nov 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) ended her 15th war patrol (13th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

15 Nov 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Malta for her 16th war patrol (14th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Greece. This was later changed to the Southern approaches to the Strait of Messina.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 16th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

21 Nov 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) torpedoed and damaged the Italian heavy cruiser Trieste South of the Straits of Messina in position 37°48'N, 15°32'E.

(All times are zone -1)
2300 hours - In position 37°48'N, 15°32'E heard HE. Shortly afterwards sighted three Italian cruisers and three destroyers bearing 275°, range about 5 nautical miles, enemy course 110°, speed 20 knots. Started attack in which four torpedoes were fired at the rear cruiser.

2312 hours - One hit was obtained just abaft the fore funnel. A column of flame rose over 200 feet in the air and the sea was illuminated for considerable distance so dived. Two depth charges were dropped shortly afterwards. Utmost meanwhile retired to the South-East.

2355 hours - A rumbling noise was heard. It was hoped that this was the cruiser sinking. A further 84 depth charges were dropped but by now Utmost was well clear.

According to Italian sources Trieste (III Cruiser Division) was in company with the heavy cruisers Trento and Gorizia and covering the right flank of an important convoy of four transport ships (Napoli, Vettor Pisani, Mantovani and Monginevro) for Tripoli, the light cruisers Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi di Savoia Duca Delgi Abruzzi (VIII Division) were on the left flank. The group was screened by the destroyers Granatiere, Aviere, Ugolino Vivaldi, Geniere, Camicia Nera, Corazziere, Carabiniere, Alpino, Turbine, Emanuelle Pessagno, Antonio Da Noli and the torpedo-boat Perseo.

Trieste was hit in boiler no.3 and had 22 killed and three wounded and temporarily immobilised but at 0038 hours managed to proceed. It was estimated that she had embarked 3000 tons of water. Shortly after the light cruiser Abruzzi was hit by an aircraft torpedo and disabled but both cruisers managed to limp back to Messina while the convoy was ordered to Taranto.

The Trieste was out of action until mid-July 1942. (4)

27 Nov 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 16th war patrol (14th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

9 Dec 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Malta for her 17th war patrol (15th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Taranto.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 17th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

12 Dec 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) attacked the fast Italian transports Fabio Filzi (6836 GRT, built 1940) and Carlo del Greco (6837 GRT, built 1941) in the Gulf of Taranto in position 39°47'N, 17°22'E. All four torpedoes fired missed their targets.

(All times are zone -1)
0050 hours - Heard HE bearing 135°.

0110 hours - In position 39°47'N, 17°22'E sighted two destroyers and two merchant vessels bearing 130°, range about 6 nautical miles, enemy course 330°, speed 15 knots. Started attack.

0132 hours - Fired four torpedoes, two at each merchant ship. The nearest target was then at 5000 yards range.

0133 hours - Dived and retired to the South.

0139 hours - Heard one torpedo hit.

0150 hours - Depth charging started. About 40 were dropped throughout the night.

[The convoy was escorted by the Italian destroyers Nicoloso da Recco and Antoniotto Usodimare. Shortly after HMS Upright sent both transports to the bottom of the sea]. (4)

16 Dec 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) attacked a force of Italian warships off the Gulf of Taranto in position 39°33'N, 17°41'E. Four torpedoes were fired from long range but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
2210 hours - Heard H.E. bearing 335°.

2220 hours - In position 39°33'N, 17°41'E sighted destroyers and large units bearing 315°, range about 6 nautical miles, enemy course 140°, speed 20 knots. Started attack.

2234 hours - Fired four torpedoes at what appeared to be a cruiser at long range. The torpedoes missed and it is thought that the speed, estimated at 18 knots, may have been to little.

[The force attacked was most likely made up of the Italian heavy cruisers Gorizia and Trento escorted by the Italian destroyers Maestrale, Alfredo Oriani and Vincenzo Gioberti. They were scouting ten miles ahead of the Littorio battle group as the First Battle of Sirte was developing.] (4)

19 Dec 1941
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) ended her 17th war patrol (15th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. This was the last patrol of her 1st commission. She was now sent back to the U.K. to refit. (4)

3 Jan 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar. She was escorted out by the British minesweeper HMS Abingdon (Lt. G.A. Simmers, RNR). Due to the shortage of torpedoes in Malta, she carried only two Mark II torpedoes.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (4)

12 Jan 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (4)

17 Jan 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for Holy Loch.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (4)

25 Jan 1942
While on passage from Gibraltar for Holy Loch HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) is ordered to take up a patrol position South-West of Brest, France (in position 47°25'N, 06°30'W). The passage now became her 18th war patrol. (4)

31 Jan 1942
At 2310 hours, in position 47°30'N, 06°33'W, a U-boat was sighted bearing 040°, range 3 nautical miles. Utmost dived but could not regain contact.

This was most likely the German U-boat U-753 on passage to St. Nazaire after her 1st war patrol in the North Atlantic.

2 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) left her patrol area and resumed her passage to Holy Loch. (4)

3 Feb 1942
At 0800 hours HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) made rendezvous off Wolfs Rock with her escort to Holy Loch, the British armed yacht HMS Breda (Capt.(retired) A. E. Johnston, RN). (4)

5 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) arrived at Holy Loch. (4)

8 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) departed Holy Loch for Blyth. She was escorted by HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN). (8)

11 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) arrived at Blyth. (2)

13 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) commenced her refit at Blyth. (2)

23 Apr 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) ended her refit at Blyth. (9)

3 May 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) departed Blyth for passage to Holy Loch. She made the passage together with HMS Thunderbolt (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Crouch, DSO and Bar, RN). They were escorted by HMS Scalby Wyke (Skr. C.A. Grimmer, RNR). Off Dundee they were joined by the Dutch submarine HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) that was on passage to Scapa Flow.

The next day HrMs O 14 and HMS Scalby Wyke proceeded to Scapa Flow while HrMs Jan van Gelder (Lt. P.L.M. van Geen, RNN) took over the escort of HMS Utmost and HMS Thunderbolt. (10)

6 May 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) arrived at Holy Loch to begin a period of trials and training. (10)

8 Jun 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) departed Holy Loch for passage to Gibraltar. She was to proceed to Malta to rejoin the 10th submarine flotilla. She was escorted to Bishops rock by HMS White Bear (Cdr. (retired) C.C. Flemming, RN).

For the daily positions of Utmost during this passage see the map below.


HMS Utmost passage Holy Loch - Gibraltar click here for bigger map (4)

20 Jun 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (4)

26 Jun 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) was docked at Gibraltar. (11)

28 Jun 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) was undocked. (11)

29 Jun 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) carried out exercises off Gibraltar. (11)

3 Jul 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) departed Gibraltar for her 19th war patrol (16th in the Mediterranean). This was a work-up patrol in the Alboran Sea.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 19th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

10 Jul 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) ended her 19th war patrol (16th in the Mediterranean) at Gibraltar. Before entering Gibraltar harbour she carried out A/S exercises with HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN). (4)

21 Jul 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) carried out exercises off Gibraltar. (12)

24 Jul 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) carried out exercises off Gibraltar. (12)

27 Jul 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) carried out exercises off Gibraltar. (12)

1 Aug 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) departed Gibraltar for her 20th war patrol (17th in the Mediterranean). This was a passage from Gibraltar to Malta. She also had to take up a patrol position in the Sicilian narrows during 'Operation Pedestal'.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 20th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

10 Aug 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) fires three torpedoes against the Italian merchant Siculo (1480 GRT, built 1906) off Marettimo. All torpedoes missed their target despite the claim for one hit.

(All times are zone -2)
1830 hours - Sighted a merchant vessel of about 6000 tons escorted by a CANT flying boat. Enemy course 250°, speed 14 knots. Started attack.

1921 hours - In position 38°03'N, 11°59'E fired three torpedoes from 4500 yards.

1925 hours - Heard a loud explosion from the direction of the target. HE also ceased.

1929 hours - Heard two more explosions thought to be torpedoes hitting Marettimo Island.

1935 hours - Heard HE again from the direction of the target but now only 70 revs instead of 160 revs.

1939 hours - Heard minor explosions from the direction of the target.

1946 hours - Heard two loud explosions.

1950 hours - No HE could be heard anymore.

2030 hours - Sighted the enemy ship steering 090° towards the South end of Marettimo Island.

According to Italian sources Siculo was on a trip from Naples to Tripoli escorted only by an aircraft which sighted the submarine and dropped a bomb. Siculo took avoiding action and sighted two torpedo tracks. (4)

15 Aug 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) ended her 20th war patrol (17th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

25 Aug 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) departed Malta for her 21th war patrol (18th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Greece.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 21th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

2 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) attacked the Italian merchant Nerucci (1180 GRT, built 1892) with three torpedoes West of Levkas Island, Greece. No hits were obtained as the torpedoes were seen from the air and could be evaded.

(All times are zone -2)
1220 hours - When in position 38°36'N, 20°30'E sighted an aircraft circling over the tops of two masts bearing 015°. Range was about 7 nautical miles.

1230 hours - Identified the targets as a 3000 tons ship escorted by one small Armed Merchant Cruiser with an aircraft overhead. They were proceeding southwards along the coast of Levkas Island. Started attack.

1256 hours - In position 38°36'N, 20°31'E fired three torpedoes from 2000 yards. Went deep upon firing. No explosions followed this attack.

1304 to 1320 hours - 20 Depth charges were dropped. None were close.

1401 hours - Returned to periscope depth. Nothing in sight.

According to Italian sources Nerucci was on passage from Preveza to Patras and Tobruk. Initially, she had sailed in convoy with Monstella (5311 GRT, built 1918) and Costante C (869 GRT, built 1901). escorted by the auxiliary Brioni, however Monstella had been torpedoed by HMS Rorqual and the convoy was diverted to Preveza. However Nerucci ran aground near Mytikae and a tug was sent to free her and she reached Preveza during the night of 31 August/1 September. She sailed from Preveza on the morning of 2 September but her escort has not yet been identified (Brioni had returned to Brindisi and Costante C. had gone ahead to Patras). The escorting aircraft dropped two bombs but could no ascertain the result. (4)

7 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) ended her 21th war patrol (18th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

11 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) was docked at Malta. (13)

14 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) was undocked. (13)

17 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 22th war patrol (19th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea.

When HMS Talisman did not report to be clear of the minefields in the Sicilian Channel on the 18th Utmost was ordered to patrol off Empedocle, Sicily, Italy to find out if there was any E-boat activity originating from that port. Air reconnaissance had shown that five German E-boats were there on the 14th. They were probably fitted for minelaying and were laying new minefields along the routes used by allied submarines.

On the 22th Utmost was ordered to proceed to the Gulf of Hammamet.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 22th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

25 Sep 1942
At 2010 hours (zone -2) HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) carried out a bombardment of Linosa Island. In 10 minutes 20 rounds (and 3 starshell) were fired. 17 Rounds had hit the target.

Italian sources indicate that an observation post on Monte Vulcano was the target but suffered no damage. Coombe came under criticism from Captain G.W.G. 'Shrimp' Simpson (Capt. S.10) as shelling a village 'seems to be carrying total war too far'. (4)

26 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 22th war patrol (19th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

3 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 23th war patrol (20th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea. She was also to perform a special operation.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 23th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

9 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) carried out special operation 'Blackbird'. Two Italian agents were to be landed near Napoli. It appeared the agents were detected by the enemy during the landing.

(All times are zone -1)
0030 hours - Surfaced near the selected landing spot (near Lido di Licola). Closed the shore.

0105 hours - The Folbot with the recovery line attached left the ship.

0145 hours - As no arranged 'signal' had been received, three strong pulls on the recovery line, the Folbot was recovered. When it arrived alongside both agents were still in it!!!. On being questioned why they had not landed they stated that it was too far for them. This seemed a very poor excuse and it looked like the agents preferred to abandon the operation. Lt. Coombe ordered them back towards the shore which they did at 0225 hours.

0321 hours - The recovery line was still running out (after being stopped several times). By now Lt. Coombe had to cut the line in order to retire to seaward to get clear of the land when dawn broke.

0405 hours - While still proceeding to seaward, flares and rockets were fired on the shore. It appeared the landing party was detected.

0416 hours - Utmost now dived and proceeded further to seaward to get in deeper water.

0425 hours - Utmost was now bottomed. The battery was now very low. They had to wait in this position for a day and proceeded to seaward to charge the next night.

The two agents are believed to have been caught and executed. (4)

11 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked but missed a small merchant vessel with two torpedoes about 25 nautical miles South-West of Civitavecchia, Italy.

(All times are zone -1)
2000 hours - In position 41°54'N, 11°21'E sighted a small ship. She was quite fast, 15 knots. Fired two torpedoes from 3000 yards which missed. It was thought this was the mail streamer from Sardinia to Civitavecchia.
(4)

13 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) torpedoed and sank the the Italian tanker Nautilus (2070 GRT, built 1921) [she is sometime referred in error as the German Languste] off Cape Figari, Sardinia, Italy in position 41°03'N, 09°43'E.

(All times are zone -1)
1305 hours - In position 41°03'N, 09°43'E sighted the masts and funnel of a small steamer bearing 310°. She was rounding Cape Ferro and when clear she proceeded on a course of 142°. Started attack.

1318 hours - Sighted masts and funnel of a tanker rounding Cape Ferro. She was following one mile astern of the first ship. Immediately shifted target to this vessel.

1349 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 2000 yards and went deep upon firing the last torpedo. The third torpedo had a gyro failure and passed twice overhead shortly after it had been fired, a lucky escape for Utmost.

1351 hours - Heard a large explosion thought to be the second torpedo hitting the target. HE of the target stopped and was not heard again.

1356 hours - Returned to periscope depth but immediately heard fast HE approaching so went deep again and took avoiding action. A counter attack now followed in which 19 depth charges were dropped. Some were quite close but no damage was done.

1515 hours - Returned to periscope depth. No sign of the tanker. The ship that was sighted first was still in sight and was most likely the escort for the tanker. An aircraft was also patrolling the area. Went deep again.

According to Italian sources she had been on passage from La Maddalena to Olbia escorted by the auxiliary Ipparco Baccich. The minesweeper S. Vincenzo picked up 29 survivors including two wounded, three were missing. (4)

17 Oct 1942
While on the return passage to Malta, HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) was ordered to take up a patrol position between Pantelleria and Lampedusa to intercept an enemy convoy to Tripoli, Libya. (4)

19 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked an enemy convoy between Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Two torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
0840 hours - In position 36°03'N, 11°56'E sighted two aircraft and the masts of four ships bearing 350°.

0850 hours - Identified the ships as three medium seized merchant ships in two columns escorted by seven destroyers disposed on each bow, beam, quarter and one right astern. Started attack to attack the leading merchant vessel of the Port column.

0932 hours - Sighted a tanker, the rear ship of the Starboard column. Shifted target to this ship.

1003 hours - Fired the last two torpedoes aboard at this tanker. Range was 6000 yards. No hits were obtained. No counter attack followed. Utmost later surfaced to make an enemy report.

[The convoy was made up of the Italian tanker Saturno (5029 GRT, built 1914) and the Italian merchants Beppe (4859 GRT, built 1912), Capo Orso (3149 GRT, built 1916), Titania (5397 GRT, built 1918). They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Antonio da Noli, Giovanni da Verazzano, Antonio Pigafetta, Ascari, Vincenzo Gioberti and Alfredo Oriani as well as the Italian torpedo boat Sagittario. The torpedo boats Nicola Fabrizi and Centauro had already left the convoy when Utmost attacked.] (4)

21 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 23th war patrol (20th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

3 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 24th war patrol (21th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off 'the toe of Italy'.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Utmost 24th war patrol click here for bigger map (4)

7 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked the Italian submarine Otaria with four torpedoes near Capo dell Armi. No hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
1215 hours - In position 37°52'N, 15°47'E sighted a submarine bearing 300°, range 5000 yards, coming round Capo del Armi.

1220 hours - The submarine steadied on a course of 135°. Started attack.

1226 hours - Identified the target as an Italian Liuzzi-class boat.

1241 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 400 yards. No hits were obtained. The torpedoes are thought to have run under due to the short range.

1243 hours - The submarine made of at high speed.

According to Italian sources Otaria (C.C. Giuseppe Caito) was proceeding from Naples to Taranto. One torpedo was observed and avoiding action taken immediately, it passed astern or just under her stern. Four explosion were heard which were probably torpedoes at the end of their run. (4)

10 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked an enemy cruiser force with four torpedoes about 15 nautical miles East of Augusta, Sicily, Italy. No hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)

0611 hours - Sighted three cruisers and three destroyers. The rear cruiser was nearest to Utmost so this one was selected as the target.

0637 hours - In position 37°16'N, 15°31'E fired four torpedoes at the rear cruiser from 7000 yards. Went deep upon firing.

0646 hours - Heard a heavy explosion thought to be a torpedo hit. One minute later another explosion was heard.

The enemy force was made up of the light cruisers Giuseppe Garibaldi, Luigi di Savoia Duca Delgi Abruzzi and Duca d'Aosta. They were escorted by the destroyers Alpino, Bersagliere, Camicia Nera and Granatiere. This force was on the way from Navarino, Greece to Augusta, Sicily, Italy. (4)

12 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 24th war patrol (21th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

17 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 25th war patrol (22th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol between Tunisia and Sicily. (2)

23 Nov 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked the Italian auxiliary minelayer Barletta (1975 GRT) with torpedoes with torpedoes 3 miles north of Cape Blanc (Bizerta). No hits were obtained.

Barletta was on passage from Palermo to Bizerta escorted by the torpedo boat Groppo (C.C. Beniamine Farina). At 1215 hours, the minelayer observed three torpedo tracks, took evading action and dropped three depth charges. Groppo who was ahead and equipped with sonar did not observe or hear anything. Barletta went on to Bizerta while the torpedo boat turned back to search for the submarine. Groppo observed only dead fishes which marked the position of Barletta’s depth charges but did not obtain a contact.

Utmost had withdrawn from the area and reported in her last signal timed 1231A/23 that she had made a successful attack. Perhaps the depth charges from Barletta had been mistaken for hits. She was in approximately 37°40'N, 11°03'E at 2200A and was expected in Malta on 25 November. Italian radio finding had detected the signal and estimated it to be from a position about 010° - 35 miles from Bizerta or approximately 37°50'N, 10°00'E. She was never heard again and disappeared with all hands.

On 25 November, Groppo sailed again from Palermo for Bizerta, escorting with the torpedo boat Sirio (s.o.) a convoy consisting of the transports XXI Aprile, Etruria and Carlo Zeno and the motorized lighters MZ.705 and MZ.756.

The same day at 1155 hours, an escorting aircraft dropped a bomb on the port side at a distance of 4000 metres and signalled a submarine. As the convoy turned to starboard, Groppo was detached to hunt. At 1210 hours an echo was obtained and four minutes later depth charges were dropped (the number is not given in the report, position 38°31.5'N, 12°01'E). The submarine was believed hit and the torpedo boat returned for a second run and claimed it sunk. After lingering in the scene for about an hour, Groppo left to rejoin the convoy.

At 1353 hours, the escorting Cant Z 506 dropped a bomb and signalled a submarine (38°32'N, 11°43'E). Again Groppo left the convoy to search the submarine. Seven minutes later the aircraft dropped a second bomb. At 1413.5 hours, Groppo sighted what appeared to be a torpedo track and at 1525 hours obtained an echo, she dropped 15 depth charges and lost the contact. However the result appeared inconclusive and Sirio ordered her to rejoin the convoy.

Although it has been sometime suggested that Groppo may have accounted for Utmost, there is considerable doubt that this was the cause of her loss. Coombe had seemed to indicate that he was returning to Malta in his last signal and he was due there on the 25th, the very day that Groppo attacked 'the submarine'. The position of Groppo’s first attack was a little over 100 miles from Barletta's reported attack. It is true that it was not a great distance but it was not on her supposed route back and does not explain why Coombe would have taken his submarine in that direction without informing Malta.

In addition, the Italian analysis and assessment of Groppo's claims were not favourable; Capitano di Corvetta Farina was criticised for being too optimistic and the result of both attacks deemed to be doubtful.

It must be emphasized that echo contact and torpedo tracks were not necessarily indication that a submarine was present. A fair number of reported attacks by axis and allied forces were bogus.

It is most likely that HMS Utmost was lost on a minefield as she was returning to Malta. (14)

Sources

  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 199/2573
  3. ADM 199/373
  4. ADM 199/1922
  5. ADM 173/17171
  6. ADM 173/17173
  7. ADM 173/17176
  8. ADM 199/424
  9. ADM 173/17731
  10. ADM 173/17732
  11. ADM 173/17733
  12. ADM 173/17734
  13. ADM 173/17736
  14. Platon Alexiades

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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